"The dried flower-heads of Matricaria Chamomilla Linné (Fam. Compositae), without the presence or admixture of more than 5 per cent. of stems or foreign matter. Preserve it in tightly-closed containers and guard against attack by insects." U. S.
Flores Chamomillae Vulgaris; Horse Gowan, Dog's Camovyne; Camomille commune (d'Allemagne), Fr. Cod.; Flores Chamomillae, P.G.; Kamillen, Kamillenblumen, G.; Camomilla comune, It.; Manzanilla (Flor de), Sp.
Matricaria Chamomilla is an annual plant, with a branching stem a foot or two in height, bearing alternate leaves, the lower being tri-pinnate, the upper bipinnate or simply pinnate, and all of them very green, and nearly or quite smooth. The leaflets are linear and very small. The flower-heads appear singly at the ends of the stem and branches. The bracts of the involucre are obtuse, green in the middle, and whitish, membranous, and translucent at the margin. The ray-florets are pistillate white, at first spreading, and ultimately reflected. The disk is of a deep yellow color, at first flat, but in the end convex, and in some cases somewhat conical. The plant is a native of Europe and western Asia, and is occasionally cultivated in our gardens. It is also naturalized in North America and Australia. Mitlacher gives the results of methods of cultivating matricaria in Zeit. Oest. Apoth. Ver., 1, p. 410. Meyer has suggested (Pharm. Zeit., lviii, p. 790) the practicability of scientifically collecting matricaria from the wild grown plants. All parts of it are active, but the flowers only are official. These are gathered from May to August, shrink in drying, so that they are scarcely half as large as in their recent state. Those found in commerce are imported from Germany.
Properties.—Matricaria is officially described as follows: "Flower-heads composed of a few white ray-florets and numerous yellow disk-florets on conical, more or less hollow receptacles, the latter being from 3 to 10 mm. in breadth; disk-flowers tubular, perfect, and without a pappus; ray-flowers from 10 to 20, pistillate, corolla white, 3-toothed and 4-veined, usually reflexed; involucre hemispherical, composed of from 20 to 30 imbricated, oblanceolate, and pubescent scales; peduncles light green to brownish-green, longitudinally furrowed, more or less twisted and attaining a length of 2.5 cm.; achenes somewhat obovoid and faintly 3-to 5-ribbed; pappus none, or only a slight membranous crown; odor pleasant, aromatic; taste aromatic and bitter. Matricaria yields not more than 13 per cent. of ash." U. S.
"The similar flower-heads of Anthemis arvensis L., and Maruta Cotula De Candolle (Fam. Compositae), have conical, solid, and chaffy receptacles." U. S. VIII.
In addition to the above it is sometimes admixed with the flower-heads of other European species of Anthemis. Sometimes the flower-heads of the common daisy (Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum L.. as well as other species of Chrysanthemum are present in the drug of commerce.
The dried flowers of matricaria are considerably smaller than those of common chamomile, and exhibit a larger proportion of the disk-florets compared with those of the ray. They have a strong, peculiar, rather unpleasant odor, and a disagreeable, bitter taste. Their active constituents are volatile oil and bitter extractive, which are readily taken up by water and alcohol. The oil, which is obtained by distillation with water, is thick, somewhat tenacious, of a fine deep blue color becoming green and brown by age, and almost opaque in mass. Though supposed by Gerhardt to be identical with the oil of chamomile (Anthemis nobilis., it has been shown to be distinct. (P. J., Feb., 1862, p. 429.) It congeals at -20° C. (-4° F.), has the sp. gr. 0.93, and contains a terpene, C10H16, and a colorless oil, C10H16O. Schimmel & Co.'s Report for April, 1897, states that the German chamomile oil contains a paraffin hydrocarbon, which was obtained as a snowy white solid melting at 53° to 54° C. (127.4°-129.2° F.). The blue color is due to a volatile principle called azulene by Piesse, and caerulein by Gladstone and others; also found in oil of absinthe, yarrow and some other blue volatile oils. This, when distilled with potassium, yields a terpene, (C10H16)3, and with phosphoric oxide a hydrocarbon, C10H14. (Kachler, Ber. d. Chem. Ges., iv, 36.)
Uses.—Matricaria is a mild tonic, very similar to chamomile in medicinal properties, and, like it, in very large doses an emetic. It is considered also in Europe to be antispasmodic and anthelmintic. It is much employed in Germany, but in this country scarcely at all, unless by German practitioners. It may be given for the same purposes and in the same manner as chamomile.
Dose, half an ounce (15.5 Gm.).
Off. Prep.—Species Emollientes, N. F.